Just me, poking my head in your door once again. The spring and summer have been very difficult for my family, but things are now on the upswing. I have much to be grateful for and want to start sharing once again the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord.
Our family experienced some very dark days. Days that overwhelmed. Days where I would wake up wondering if life would ever be normal again. Days that felt like they would never end, yet they did…only to be replaced with nights of despair and sadness.
I did what many do in those times; I retreated. Instead of a lifeline to people who could encourage and lift me up, the phone became an instrument of conveying bad news and navigating through phone menus of doctors, businesses, and other entities necessary to get us help and information. The last thing I wanted to do was make another phone call or send another text of bad news. I didn’t want to talk with anyone unless it was absolutely necessary.
I did send out texts asking for prayer. I even sent some filled with self-pity. And I set up a family text to keep everyone apprised of what was going on. But sending those texts did nothing to encourage me or provide the hope I desperately needed. Instead they were another reminder that life was hard right now.
But in the midst of our family ordeal, God saw fit to break through the defensive barriers I had erected. He knew my desperation for prayer and He provided tangible encouragement when I needed it most. Here are just a few of those gifts of help. It isn’t all inclusive and I don’t mean to leave any out. I’m sure there are many other ways to get involved in being God’s hands to those in need. But for now I share with you some that were irreplaceable. Perhaps they will give you an idea of how you can help others facing difficult times.
- Early on dad’s pastor asked if his church could provide meals. I refused at first, but quickly realized what a tremendous help it would be. People always bring more than you need so we ended up with meals galore for future use as well.
- When people texted me they weren’t long-winded. They simply said I love you and I’m praying. It meant the world.
- Another friend would text me from time to time saying “I’m so sorry for what’s happening.” She meant it from her heart. I was sorry, too. Knowing someone else understood and felt bad for what we were going through helped me recognize it was indeed a tough time and it was ok to want a way out. And a precious family member began texting notes of thanks for what we were doing and providing ongoing encouragement in our endeavors. Her comments of you can do it gave me much-needed strength on days when I needed it most.
- Yet another friend began texting short encouragement EVERY SINGLE DAY. And it hasn’t let up. I didn’t have to answer back, and many times didn’t. But every day I would hear her text arrive around 6am and couldn’t wait to read it. And to this day, I wake every day to the text tone going off to say good morning. This began in early April. Now that’s a faithful friend!
- This same friend also introduced me to the importance of repetition. When I would share something positive, she would respond “Good. Good.” At first I thought it was just her manner of expression. But as time went on I realized what that repetition did; it made me take note. It made me rethink what she had said. So the first “good” was her expression of joy that something positive had occurred. But the second “good” was for me. It was like hearing God say “Yes, it’s very good indeed. See, I am with you and things will improve one day.” I have now incorporated this very simple repetition technique myself, hoping it will be an encouragement to others.
- Our family tragedy necessitated my husband and me moving 150 miles away for three and a half months. Every few weeks one or both of us would return to Orlando to mow the lawn, get some down time, or just to make sure the house was still standing. As you can imagine, we never had any food in the house. A dear friend and sister in Christ offered to provide us a meal whenever we were next in town. Again, my pride didn’t want to say yes. But my spirit knew this was a gift from God. So one day I let her know we were returning later that week and would love a meal. She texted back giving me a choice of three meals to choose from. (How great was that!!!). And the she asked for a delivery date and time. She arrived as planned with a meal and an embrace. Her kindness carried us through for days.
Matthew 25:35-40 (NCV), Jesus speaking:
“I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your house. I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.”
Then the good people will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our house? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?”
Then the King will answer, “I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me.”
There are plenty of ways to be God’s hands to others in very practical ways and there are plenty of people who need just what you can offer: a meal, a kind word, a hand-written note or store-bought card, a babysitter for an evening, a short text message, prayer-prayer-and more prayer, a ride somewhere, or an offer to do some errands. Ways to help are limitless.
I am immensely grateful to those who have assisted and continue to assist as we walk toward our new normal. I hope you all know how much your acts of love meant to us and how much we love and appreciate you.